Last Night: Panic! At The Disco At House Of Blues
Panic! At The Disco lead singer and main archtiect Brendan Urie comes from the ADHD generation, the one that got meds shoved down their throats. The strange byproduct of that generation, late Generation Yers, is that they all really have an affinity for expertly-crafted power-pop, almost to the point of the theatrical. Hello Glee, the resurgence of musical theater, and grand-scaled small-time Phil Spectors.
Which is funny considering that you would reasonably think that you would get spastic punk rock or metal from that set. These were kids who saw Andrew Lloyd Webber and Queen the way bands five to ten years earlier looked up to Eddie Vedder and Kurt Cobain.
When P!ATD hit teens in 2005, the band went in line with the emo-pop of the day, your My Chemical Romances and Fall Out Boys. Bassist Pete Wentz of the latter would sign them to his Decaydance label during the later salad days of emo-pop.
Instead of floundering and changing gears, P!ATD held fast and expanded the scope of their debut, A Fever You Can't Sweat Out, and went to Abbey Road Studios to work on its follow-up, Pretty.Odd.
Pretty lofty, for a band that was already all over MTV and the Internet. and not exactly a tried and true tactic to get push more units, getting spacey and vintage, and to an extent more confusing, especially when you are dealing with a fickle audience.
That's where the band diverted off into territory that was hard to pin down for those of us music writers who wanted to pigeonhole them into a audio ghetto. Beatles fetishists? Beach Boys rips? A power-pop band playing a better hand than we thought? Maybe.
Wednesday night's 17-song set list showcased all that we see in the band, showing Urie to have the stage persona of a classic-Jim Carrey, with a batch of songs from the band's new album, Vices & Virtues, which are, to steal a line from a soup can, heartier and meatier.
"The Ballad of Mona Lisa" has a grown-up hook, jumping off from their usual baroque pop and putting the radio-rock sheen on full blast. Vices sees the band pulling back from the Kinks brink on Pretty and heaping big-budget guitars onto their skeleton, which they can pull of, but it doesn't seem entirely comfortable. Case in point, "Hurricane," from Vices.
The older material, the breakthroughs from Fever actually, benefits from the new heavy hand, and the Pretty stuff fares well. "Nine In The Afternoon" and the apparent marijuana love-song "That Green Gentleman (Things Have Changed)" get the extra kick in the ass they needed.